With little warning Gilroy Gardens announced a new [email protected] event to take place weekends through October. Clearly inspired by the success of last year’s Lumination display of Chinese artistry of light and color, the event is the first of three night variations the park will feature through the end of the year. I have always loved how the park is lit during the Christmas season, and finally found time to get down to the little niche park in Garlic Town anxiously awaiting a similar display. While the low cost evening was a decent offering, the last minute announcement was accompanied by a last minute feel to the event. The absence of the charming displays done by local organizations and school groups that lined the bridge leading into the park were a tip off that things may be underwhelming. They did stock up on corn stalks and fog machines.

The hay maze returned, but I finally had to consult the map for the trick or treat locations. Turns out it was six shops that had a plastic cauldron of candy by the cash register.

South County Backroads received a minimal makeover, mostly consisting of flashing lights along the road.

This was originally supposed to be the only ride operating, but they expanded the offerings by the time of my visit by operating an additional select few.

Inside the large greenhouse, known as Monarch Garden, lights were low, and menacing sounds filled the air. This is about as scary as it gets in a place geared towards the oldest and youngest of those among us.

Here the emphasis is heavier on having a Spooky Treat before hearing a Spooky Story beside the fire. Then settling in for a spooky episode of the Addams Family at the Lakeside Amphitheater…

All well and good, the kind of simple fun ideal for a theme park where thrill seeking teenagers are an endangered species, but the gardens, paths and waterways, while still beautiful, lacked the level of attention expected by your humble narrator after prior visits. Still, there are worse places to stroll at night. Bonfante Falls were draped in colorful lighting, and the recently installed pathway down to the edge of Coyote Lake provided views of the even more recently installed fountains and colorful orbs that dotted the water’s surface.

Pumpkins scattered around the base of the Basket Tree.

I’m particularly fond of the isolated Claudia’s Garden, and find it to be by far the prettiest part of their Christmas display. Though not as extensive for Halloween, it was arguably the most imaginative aspect of the night with its presentation of lasers and fog.

When November rolls around, it will be the debut of [email protected], an evening with live music and a food and wine festival type vibe geared specifically with adults in mind more than children, although they are welcome to attend. Finally in December the park will sparkle with [email protected] and the display regular visitors have enjoyed over the years. Although a separate ticket is required, they are only $30 at the gate, $20-25 online (service charge will apply) or $10 to upgrade your day ticket. Premium members receive admission to all three @Night variations as do holders of Cedar Fair Platinum Pass holders. Further information about all three themed evenings can be found HERE: Gilroy Gardens At Night.

Have you visited Gilroy Gardens at night for any of these events? What were YOUR thoughts?

I’ll return again soon with another Day by The Bay.